A passing practice plan

While each child’s enjoyment still takes priority above anything during the coaching session and basic technique should be maintained, now introduce some technical and tactical elements. This is a good age to teach children basic skills of heading, shielding the ball and using the laces. Continue to help the children learn the rules of the game.

  • A coach should:
  • Be enthusiastic
  • Encourage children
  • Prepare a thoughtful progressive coaching session
  • Promote good sportsmanship between all players
  • Be a role model to the children

Priorities for a training session are:

Children should be working with their own soccer ball at the beginning of the session. As the session develops this requirement can be relaxed for more tactical practices. The same philosophy applies as with younger age groups: Many touches on the ball mean lots of learning.

Brief explanations and technical advice are used but still be careful not to lose the children’s interest.

A more tactical element is now introduced. This could include getting the players to spread out, using the width of the field instead of always playing down the middle and all players moving up and down the field as a team.

Continue to emphasize the correct technique.

Still discourage the use of the toe. Children should now be using the inside, outside, heel, laces and bottom of the foot.

End every session with a scrimmage, which should be about a third of the total sessions time. Coaches should continue to encourage players to spread out. When all the players bunch around the ball, make them freeze and ask them what they think about their position. Let them teach themselves. Repeat rules of the game during this time.

Every session should now follow a general pattern: warm up, unopposed practice, opposed practice, game related practice, scrimmage/game.

Fast Footwork Warm Up

Fast footwork

Set out a square approximately 15 yards by 15 yards depending on the number of children. Players dribble around the square, moving into space and encouraged to keep their head up, no toes! Start with the inside of the foot, then the outside, bottom of the foot and laces. Incorporate turns during this warm up (coach demonstrates correct technique), starting with the basic hook turn and introduce a new turn each week.

Pinball

Pinball

Set up a rectangle of cones 15 yards by 8 yards, depending on the ability of the children. Divide the children into two teams with each team standing outside the long side of the rectangle. Each child has a ball. A ball that is a different color (object ball) from all the rest is placed in the center of the area. Children should try to pass their ball to hit the object ball and knock it over their opponent’s line. Players may not stop the object ball with their feet; they can only pass their own ball into it. Play is continuous until the object ball has passed outside the area. If the object ball is knocked out the side the coach can pass the ball into the center again. Players may retrieve soccer balls from anywhere on their own side of the area. Balls can only be kicked from behind the end line. Soccer balls are to be passed using the inside of the foot only.

Keep Away

Keepaway

Set up an area of cones 10×10 yards for each group of 4 children with one soccer ball per group. Play 3 attackers against 1 defender (play 4 attackers against 1 defender with younger or less able children). The attackers must try to make 10 uninterrupted passes to score a goal. Defenders should try to intercept a pass and kick the ball out of the square to score a goal. The first pass is a free pass that can’t be intercepted. Play first to 3 goals then rotate defender.

Progression 1. Allow a maximum of 2 touches of the ball before a pass is made to another attacker. This will reduce any dribbling that may occur and requires swifter movement from those players without the ball.

Progression 2. Passes should now be made with the weaker foot.

Progression 3. Now make the square 20×20 yards and play 6 attackers against 2 defenders. Same rules apply and progression 1 and 2 can be added to this game if players are successful. To encourage players to spread out attackers can be made to run around a cone on the outside of the square after making a pass before they can rejoin the game.

Through The Gates (Dribbling)

Through the gates

Set out pairs of cones about 1 yard apart covering a total area approximately 20×20 yards. Each pair of cones represents a gate. Each child has a ball. Time how many gates the players can dribble through in 30 seconds. Go over coaching points such as a) soft touches on the ball when dribbling, b) head up, c) only go towards open gates. Repeat for another 30 seconds to look for improvement. Try a third time to see if players can make their best score.

Progression 1. Players can only dribble with the outside of their feet.

Progression 2. Players must dribble with their weaker foot only.

Progression 3. Players must do a trick as they go through the gate

Through The Gates (Passing)

Set out the cones as above. This time the children are divided into pairs with a ball between two. The player that begins with the soccer ball must dribble up to a gate then pass the ball along the ground to their partner. This player then dribbles the ball to another gate where they return the pass. Time how many gates the players can pass through in 30 seconds. Go over coaching points such as a) soft touches on the ball when dribbling, b) head up, c) only go towards open gates, d) make a simple push pass e) don’t kick the ball too hard or in the air. Repeat for another 30 seconds to look for improvement. Try a third time to see if players can make their best score.

Progression 1. Players can only dribble with the outside of their feet.

Progression 2. Players must dribble with their weaker foot only.